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How to avoid losing hope in the world of work?

The link between perseverance and motivation

Marakoudja has four core values that permeate everything we do: pragmatism, passion, transparency and perseverance. In this article I will be looking at the motivation that is essential if we want to ‘keep on keeping on’.

Here’s one dictionary definition of the word ‘motivation’: “A broad category of internal determinants that influence behaviour, thinking and mood”.[1]

You’ll agree that this is a relatively broad definition. To bring things down to earth, here is a real-life case that involved me.

Generally speaking I’m a pretty perseverant person and my motivation levels tend to remain high on their own. But recently I got discouraged, and my motivation whittled away. What’s more, the loss of motivation was shared by my project team.

I wondered why I should actually persevere in the first place. I tried to understand what was going on around me and, most importantly, think about what I could do to turn the situation round.

My initial thoughts focused on expectations. Here I found myself expecting others to change so that I could regain motivation, which in turn would give me the energy I needed in order to persevere.

These were the kind of thoughts bouncing around in my head:

  • If only my client could tell me clearly whether they are happy with the service I’m providing, or not

  • If only the team members could acknowledge my experience and show appreciation whenever I contribute something

This was accompanied by other thoughts which shifted the responsibility for my motivation levels on to other people.

Obviously that kind of thinking does not help me grow as a person. And if I’d told people what I was thinking, I don’t think much would have changed as a result.

My next step was to regain a sense of perspective. So I took some time off, which enabled me to take a step back. During this time I made sure I wasn’t spending time on the project, even mentally.

By taking time out, I was able to return to the project in a more proactive frame of mind.

I realised that I myself could take action regarding the source of my ‘demotivation’. I could deconstruct those negative thoughts telling me that others should change so that I might feel better. Most importantly, I could change my vantage point. This means understanding that, in this example, it’s not the job of my client or fellow team members to sustain my motivation levels. That kind of change can only originate from within a person.

So I went back to basics. I thought about what ‘lights my fire’ in my job as a project manager. The answer was crystal clear: bringing a project to fruition despite the obstacles.

In the present setting, the obstacles I encountered sapped my motivation, but these were in fact opportunities to take up the challenge represented by the project. I took time to identify the hurdles and the issues that were weighing me down. That then gave rise to ideas about how I could change the situation. Simply by getting a grip on the issues I was able to regain my motivation for the project.

For example, instead of telling myself that so-and-so might want to stop contradicting me, I went through the stages of non-violent communication as a way of understanding this person’s needs. [2]

Naturally, everything did not become hunky-dory overnight. The hurdles were still there but henceforth I saw those as opportunities to grow and stopped letting them get me down.

From now on, whenever I start feeling demotivated, I ask myself these questions:

  1. Am I tired? Is this situation dominating my thinking? If so, I need to spend a few days away from it.

  2. Am I not shifting responsibility for my motivation levels on to someone else? If so, then I need to change perspective. I must remember how I felt at the start of the assignment or project.

  3. Has the situation become so bad that I should give up? If go, I should throw in the towel. If not, I should roll up my sleeves and find ways to remedy the problems.

According to Félix Leclerc, “it takes courage to be happy”. Perhaps it takes courage to stay motivated as well.

What about you? Do you have similar or different experiences? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I'll be happy to discuss the issue with you!

Artwork: Mélanie Bénard Tremblay, 2020 © Marakoudja.


[2] Nonviolent communication, Marshall Rosenberg

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